Why is Reid suddenly wading into this debate? Because Trump has mentioned his early-90s support for ending birthright citizenship not once but twice on his Twitter feed today.
Between that and the precedent used to nuke the filibuster for Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, who knew that Dirty Harry would be so useful to Republicans in retirement?
Reid being Reid, each statement must come packaged with at least one major lie:
Reid says that “immediately” after he proposed the bill in 1993 his wife sat him down and set him straight. Except here’s an op-ed he wrote in the Los Angeles Times more than a year later pushing the same legislation. https://t.co/3TLmyvbrbF https://t.co/K9RwmZGs3i
— Jimmy (@JimmyPrinceton) October 31, 2018
He was fine with ending birthright citizenship for illegals until Nevada’s Latino population began to grow and the AFL-CIO’s support for immigration began to grow with it. By the end of the 90s he had recanted. That’s what changed his mind, not some cri de coeur by his wife. What’s most telling about today’s statement isn’t his lie regarding the timing, though, it’s the fact that he doesn’t bother to defend his current position on the merits. There’s a perfunctory tribute to how awesome immigrants are but no argument whatsoever for granting U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born on U.S. soil. He could have said something like, “It would be cruel to deny a child the right to remain in the U.S. if it’s the only country he or she has ever known.” But (a) that wouldn’t explain why that child was owed citizenship rather than permanent residency and (b) it wouldn’t explain why the United States, rather than the child’s parent, was primarily to blame for the cruelty of the situation and required to rectify it.
And of course there’s (c): Handing citizen status to a child born here to someone who entered without permission effectively cedes the power to grant U.S. citizenship to illegal immigrants themselves. Border hawks like to cite the patience of legal immigrants to highlight the unfairness of amnestizing illegals. Why should someone who broke the law to get here be placed on the same legal footing as someone who waited patiently for citizenship for 15 years and followed all the rules? Amnesty, though, at least involves a political choice made by American citizens’ representatives in Washington. The Natural-Born Clause takes that choice out of Congress’s hands and places it in those of foreigners, at least with respect to their children. A constitutional provision designed to guarantee citizenship to former slaves and their descendants becomes a grant of authority to non-Americans, including non-Americans who are willing to break the country’s laws to enter. Bananas.
Now, having said all that: Where is Trump going with this goofy idea of trying to end birthright citizenship with an executive order? It won’t get through the courts. There’s no bill that would get through Congress either. Even if the GOP held the House next week, which is highly unlikely, centrist Republicans aren’t coming within 50 miles of voting to eliminate natural-born citizenship for anyone. Trump is doomed to fail on this, raising the question of what he hopes to achieve by his failure. Is the idea just to get the right riled up? Most are pretty riled up already and there won’t be another election for two more years. I’m not sure what good a state of high rile-ment will do in the immediate future.